I have often found myself drawn to the poem ‘The Guesthouse’, by Rumi. I remember first hearing it, after a yoga class. Lying on my mat, the words made so much sense. The heart, the soul, the mind, all bound up together. Yet it can feel as though many different forces occupy us.
It is a universal topic, one that has graced the mind of every thinking feeling being. How to manage the many thoughts and emotions that pass through your being every day?
It came to me on my yoga mat recently. I was frustrated at feeling stuck and unchallenged. After a week of no work, too much drinking and little exercise, I began to feel unlike myself. Feeling a lack of achievement in my life contributes to feeling low. I know this is a trigger for me, so I feel very alert to it. Yet, here I was facing it again, knowing I did this to myself. I was busy, I was not taking care of myself, or my body, and I was paying the price.
I blamed myself. That made it worse.
I approached the situation with a dark attitude, hating myself for letting things slip. Back with the black dog, feeling like a waste of space. Then, when the poem came to mind, I felt relief course through me. Approaching this feeling with discontent was not going to make it weaker, but stronger. Meeting it at the door with a kindly smile, however, could make a difference! “The shame the dark though, the malice”, we are all subject to deep emotion playing through our thoughts. The most we can ever do is to observe, understand, and befriend these feelings. The thoughts they lead to are abstract from the world. We can choose to let them inform our actions. The choice is this, or allowing the darkness to burn up energy and positive action. To be unkind to your self is to allow the negativity space to dig in. Letting the dark thoughts pass through without attaching too much weight to the meaning, this will free your mind for more constructive pursuits.
“Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.”
The reality we perceive is not what everyone else sees. It is our minds making sense of the world. If we remember this, we can take time with our emotions. We can choose to be alone for a spell and just observe the mind and its cacophony. It can help to remove the shadows and see the world a little brighter. Emotions are not reality, but they inform your relation to the world. Once you are able to intuitively remember this, you can move through it with greater ease.
This poem is often spoken of as an advocate of meditation. Taking time out for at least ten minutes a day has proven to assist many individuals to stay focused on the present moment. The health benefits are real! Meditation at its core is learning to observe the mind, without judgment. Eventually, you will be able to quiet the chatter through dedicated practice, improve your mental clarity, and mental health!
When you stay focused on the present moment, removing the internal struggles from your daily interactions, you create more space to move through the world without attaching your own narrative. The little injustices, they are just one moment. They are forgotten in a second. They are not strung together and worn around your neck as a statement of your discontent.
Think about that bad day you had recently. Now separate each moment as though they happened on different days, a different year. How much brighter would the day have seemed, than if it were viewed as the vessel for an avalanche of wrongs?
I would suggest you use this poem. Keep it on your phone, frame it and hang it on your wall, ingest its words fully and live by its ethos. And, create a healthy habit with intent, today. Start with two minutes, to just sit with your thoughts and observe. Work gradually up to ten minutes or more. Give yourself a gift that costs nothing, but enriches you no end. Let your thoughts pass by you like fish in a stream. Zero judgment. Feelings will come and go, emotions will urge on thoughts in your mind. They will jostle for position.
“Meet them at the door laughing”